Explore Philadelphia

A Guide to the Best Live Music Venues in Philly

We break down where music fans can sample bites, beers and unforgettable shows nightly at venues all over Philadelphia.

From R&B to jazz, blues to show tunes, folk to freak outs, hip-hop to punk rock, Philly is famous for its long reach when it comes to live music venues with food and booze. Here’s a handsome selection of the best music venues in Philadelphia with high notes, hot plates, and cold drinks. 

Time

The upstairs “absinthe room” of this dark, bi-level Midtown Village hot spot pulses with the music whichever DJ might be mixing that night, but really, it’s the first floor where the action is. Catch some of the best jazz and funk artists, like Philly’s own Peter Gaudioso, while imbibing in one of 166 varieties of whiskey from the bar. Be sure to check Time’s full schedule of events, including open mic nights, on their website. 1315 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.985.4800

Philadelphia's Time
Time boasts 20 taps, 166 varieties of whiskey and a full kitchen. (©G. Miller/Visit Philadelphia)

Victor Cafe

Not a live venue per se, Victor Cafe—deep in the heart of South Philadelphia—is the only place in town where you can get a drink and a hearty Italian meal and hear live opera singers without having to go to the Academy of Music. Opera singing waiters and waitresses are your guide through heavenly music and meatballs. 1303 Dickinson St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.468.3040

The Twisted Tail

This Society Hill restaurant/venue makes us nostalgic for when corner blues bars were a dime a dozen in this town. The juke joint feel paired with an adventurous Cajun-inspired menu and great whiskey selection makes The Twisted Tail a must-visit for foodie music fans. Bring your harmonica to an open blues jam party, or come for the live electric and acoustic blues from Philly cats and national acts. 509 S. Second St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.558.2471

Howl at the Moon

This isn’t your father’s piano bar a la “Mad Men,” where a guy in a tux plays Sinatra tunes. Howl at the Moon finds pianists roaring through rock classics and today’s hits—think Billy Joel and Beyonce—with bar-goers acting as lead vocalists. 258 S. 15th St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.546.4695

Johnny Brenda’s

Philly’s Fishtown neighborhood has several intimate nightspots where live indie rock rules, such as The Barbary. Johnny Brenda’s happens to be the largest. This bi-level venue hosts a wealth of notable local, national and international acts, not to mention a mean Sunday Gospel music brunch. Plus, the burgers and local beers are some of the best in town. 1201 Frankford Ave., Philadelphia, PA, 215.739.9684

Chris’ Jazz Cafe

As the only full time live jazz room in downtown Philadelphia, Chris’ gets major props. Not only does it host Philly-based students hosting open jam nights and large scale showcases of their own, the cafe also books top-notch national jazz acts nightly. If that isn’t enough, the French-inspired food is exquisite and the bartenders make one heck-of-a traditional Moskow Mule. 1421 Sansom St., Philadelphia, PA, 215.568.3131

Chris' Jazz Cafe
Great local and big-name talents play Chris' Jazz Cafe, a cozy longstanding club just off the Avenue of the Arts. (©G. Miller/Visit Philadelphia)

The Legendary Dobbs

According to The Orlon’s 1963 song, “South Street,” this famous Philly street was the place where all the hippies met, and for live music, they headed to Dobbs. The Legendary Dobbs is the joint where artists including Nirvana, Rufus Wainwright, Green Day and Pearl Jam played first before heading into infamy. Today, local rock, soul and acoustic players make its intimate stage their club of choice. 304 South St., Philadelphia, PA, 267.239.0197

 

Map of Philadelphia's Guide to the Best Live Music Venues